Wuppo (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’d seen Wuppo on the eShop a few times and it looked like the sort of game I’d want to play – silly, nonsensical stuff. It reminded me a bit of Pikuniku, although is obviously very different, and then it was incredibly cheap so I folded and here we are.

The story is (and apologies for getting lost in advance) that you are a Wum – a sort of blob creature – who lives in a hotel called The Wumhouse. In the world are are two other sentient native species, and another who were warlike and wiped out ages ago (or were they?). And now there are some space aliens who look like lions. Because you’re very messy with ice cream, you’re kicked out of the Wumhouse and so begins an adventure where you meet characters from these species, fight them, visit an underground city, come across massive bosses like a giant eel and a huge ice cream, and discover more about what you have to do through old filmstrips you play on projectors.

And play volleyball, deliver newspapers by shooting them into peoples’ faces, visit a theme park, paint a picture, and discover a face in the sky who likes to eat mud. It’s all woven together, sort of, into something mostly coherent but utterly absurd, where you end up having to save the world.

It plays out mostly as a platformer, with your bouncy little blob able to jump, and double jump, and with the right item shoot gel in the direction of the right stick in order to kill things. Quickly, you realise that the game itself isn’t the only weird thing here, as the controls are too. For example, to get into the inventory you press a direction on the d-pad rather than press +. To jump, you’d expect a face button but as this may conflict with the right stick aiming, a shoulder button is used instead – only it’s on the left, not the right like in other games where this is an issue. Both these things felt wrong for the entire duration of the game and I never got used to them. Giving items is also needlessly fiddly, as is buying things and selecting items from the inventory.

In order to progress you’re not really given enough information as to what to do, which when coupled with being given “quests” which seem to have no use or bearing on the plot (but you don’t know this at the time), it can be tricky figuring out what to do or where to go next. Also, there’s the problem of “is that platform just out of reach and I need an item or different route, or am I just mistiming my jump, or is it even a platform at all”, which is frustrating.

So while I did love the world, and the art style, and how quirky and ridiculous it all is, too many small problems in Wuppo stop me from fully recommending it. For cheaps though? You can do a lot worse.

Alwa’s Legacy (Switch): COMPLETED!

After enjoying Alwa’s Awakening so much, and it was actually Alwa’s Legacy I’d originally intended to play until I realised Awakening came first and, well, existed, of course I was going to jump right into Legacy afterwards.

It is, basically, more of the same. You’re still Zoe, you still have a magic staff, and you can still use your three powers – shoot a lightning bolt, create a block and create a bubble. This time, however, the graphics are all 16-bit in style rather than 8, and you get additional abilities too.

Once obtained, you can air-dash (a bit like how you do in Celeste), warp through some walls, breath longer underwater, and upgrade the number of health segments you have. The way you upgrade your original powers is different too – previously you just found items to do that, but now you spend the orbs you collect on improvements – most of which are new to this game. You can also remove the upgrades too, allowing you to re-spend the orbs on different upgrades, meaning if you don’t need one for a bit you can make use of another. There are also a few tweaks to the controls to accommodate more skills and to make use of the fact 16-bit machines had more buttons!

The plot isn’t much different to before – beat four bosses then take down Vicar. Each boss has its own area with different gimmicks: Two of the cleverer ones include one where you can raise and lower the water level to open up paths or solve puzzles, and the other lets you swap between past and future versions of the “dungeon”, making vines grow or lasers disappear.

I found Legacy’s enemies, especially the bosses, much much easier than those in Awakening, but found the puzzles and “how do I get to X” issues much less obvious than before. Completing it 100% was a bit harder too as hidden areas were much more hidden and there’s no controller rumble to alert you to them – although there is an item late on that warns you there’s a secret in a room, but not where in the room! Overall, though, the improvements and other changes made this more enjoyable than the original game, which I’d already thought was great. Alwa’s Legacy is not in the same league as Super Metroid or Hollow Knight, but it’s still a great Metroidvania and definitely worth picking up.

Alwa’s Awakening (Switch): COMPLETED!

In my side-quest to play more Metroidvania games (which I didn’t realise was a side-quest but it seems to have become one in recent months), I was looking through lists of well-regarded, eShop-available, games in the genre. Listed frequently was Alwa’s Legacy, so I didn’t buy that as I found it was a sequel to Alwa’s Awakening which was about £2.50 so I bought that instead.

And I’m glad I did because although it does nothing special, it’s a solid and enjoyable game with some unusual ideas for the genre. Firstly, it’s built with a NES aesthetic (in fact, there is a NES version which was developed recently) with limited colours and two button controls. Nothing new there, but it’s a good example of how to do that well.

Any Metroidvania needs to have decent unlockable powers to make things interesting, and Alwa’s Awakening manages to do this without opting for the staple double-jump. In fact, there are only three powers – create a block (which you can push or stand on), create a bubble (which rises and you can hop on briefly), and shoot a lightning bolt. The block is upgraded later so it can be used as a raft in water, and the bubble improved so you can ride it until you bang your head, but that’s it. It does a lot with these though, including some tricky platforming sections which see you switching magic on the fly, puzzles where you have to create blocks and push blocks in specific ways, and unusual methods of defeating difficult bosses.

Importantly, it has the “colouring in the map” mechanic that is so important to these games, and there are hidden and semi-hidden secrets to double the damage you can do and orbs to collect which can knock some HP off bosses before you start.

It’s also a lot longer than I was expecting. I thought I was in for a couple of hours, but it was nearer 8 when beat the final boss and I suspect there’s a different ending once I return and find the remaining handful of orbs I’d missed.

Picross S3 (Switch): COMPLETED!

More Picross, innit.

I mean, I’m not really sure what else there is to say. I think it’s the longest of the Jupiter-made games, as it took me over 35 hours to do all the puzzles, and it also introduces colour picross to the series. I didn’t like the slight change in logic at first, but it soon clicked and then I wished there were more of them.

Much as I love picross, I think I might give them a little break now before I pick up Picross S4!

Human Fall Flat (Switch): COMPLETED!

This is one of those games I’ve had my eye on for ages but for whatever reason have never bought. Well, I probably have it on Steam or something but that doesn’t count. Anyway, it was on offer this week and has recently had yet another level added and I’d just finished Scott Pilgrim and wanted another co-op game so it all fell into place and, well, here we are.

Human Fall Flat is one of those purposefully awkward to control physics based games, like Surgeon Simulator or Octodad. The idea is just to reach the end of each level, but to do so requires manipulating (read: flailing around with) objects and switches and the occasional vehicle. Or connecting cables or pipes up, or making difficult jumps with your waddley man who has no climbing skills but can just about pull himself up if you manage to grab the edge of a platform. Imagine a normal 3D platformer only you control your character’s arms directly. with the trigger buttons and right stick. It’s tricky.

switchI remember this scene from Jaws.

In a “normal” game, you’d press a button to turn a wheel, or press a button to use a key. Here, you have to grab the wheel and move the arm, or patiently line the key up exactly in the keyhole then grab and rotate the key. It’s not quite frustrating, but does get close. It gets even closer when your daughter is playing supposedly co-op, but in fact, gets in the way just to annoy. Unplugs the cable I spent ages lining up. Runs off with the axe we need to chop downa. tree. Or, and this is my favourite of all her irritating doings, grabs my leg just as I leap off something, preventing me from making the jump, and plummeting to both our deaths. Again.

But it’s very good, silly fun.

I came in like a wrecking ball.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game (Switch): COMPLETED!

Almost 11 years ago, I bought, played, completed and absolutely adored literally everything about the Scott Pilgrim game on XBLA. Last year, a rerelease was announced for current platforms, and to show my support I bought the Switch physical version from Limited Run back in January this year as they were the only place offering it. Well, that turned out to be a horror show in terms of it actually being dispatched and delivered (long story short, it took about 45 days to arrive), but thankfully, the game was worth it.

It’s the same as it was before, although with all the original DLC – mostly extra characters who are essentially just redrawn versions of existing characters – now included. Not that I needed any of the DLC because I played as Scott himself. And, now she’s not A Tiny Baby like she was when the XBLA version came out, I played co-op with my daughter as Kim. And it was excellent from start to finish, and just as I remembered it.

My only issue now is that I need to figure out if it’s as good as River City Girls or not. That game is slicker, and has even better animation and probably better music, but it’s still a tough call. Thankfully, they’re both on the Switch so I don’t have to choose!

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (Switch): COMPLETED!

There was no way I was ever going to not buy a game called Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion. It was even more likely I’d buy it when I saw the graphics, in their Zelda sort of way. And I’m glad I did get it because it was lovely.

Bad things first though. It’s short. Very short. I was expecting a Zelda length epic, but got maybe two hours tops out of it. Swapping items requires pressing Y and then choosing from a list of things, many of which you can’t actually use as they’re passive or to pass on to other characters. Since you swap between your sword and your watering can very frequently, it’s annoying you can’t assign each to a different button, or have a button to swap between the two. And speaking of buttons, the game uses B to “accept” and A to “cancel” and it’s very very annoying because that’s just wrong.

This barn could be considered a dungeon, I suppose?

But the good outweighs the bad. It’s a funny game (as you’d expect from the title) where you play as a naughty turnip who has been evicted from his greenhouse by Mayor Onion because he hasn’t paid his taxes. To make up for this, Mayor Onion gives you a number of tasks to perform, most of which have several diversions en-route. The other fruit and vegetables you meet are are quirky, from the gherkin mafia boss locked in a jar, to the baby acorn who gives you his leaf as a downpayment on some real estate. Gameplay is in the Zelda mould, with overworld wandering (and killing snails and worms) and buiildings and forests that act as short dungeons.

When you collect the little hearts (which replenish health), you burp,

You come across a few bosses, there are puzzles involving watering watermelons and portals, bombfruit to kick, babies to return to parents, books (and flyers, and bills, and anything else made of paper) to rip up, and lots of side missions which are all stupid as you uncover stuff about both your past and why all the vegetation is sentient. A compact little game with some laughs and and a few niggles, but definitely worth a play. Perhaps not at full price (about £13 I think) given the ease and length, but certainly in a sale.

Timespinner (Switch): COMPLETED!

The problem with Metroidvania games, like Kunai which I are completed just last week, is they’re somewhat moreish. Thankfully, Timespinner – which I’ve had my eye on for a while and was on sale recently – was there to feed my habit. And it is excellent.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s no Hollow Knight or Axiom Verge, but it is a really well put together action platformer with some time travel elements and nice pixel graphics, as well as some great music and a confusing but engrossing story. A story about you, a Time Messenger who has been trained to give up their history in case of attack so you can go back in time and warn your clan in advance. In a way, it’s a bit like that short-lived sci-fi series Seven Days. Only very different.

These creepy demons are a bit… sexy.

You end up a thousand years in the past, rather than a few days because of $storyreason, and flick between then and a few weeks after The Event trying to put right what once went wrong as another time-based sci-fi series would put it. Mostly this involves the usual genre thing of unlocking abilities that allow you to reach new areas, although time travel plays a role in opening a few areas too. Not many, though – and it’s a bit of a missed opportunity for the whole time element of the game to be more frequently used for puzzles and such as it’s disappointingly rare that anything you do in one period has a major effect in the other meaning they act rather more like two different worlds that happen to have very similar maps.

The gameplay is excellent though, so it doesn’t really matter much. There’s a lot of variety in the weapons you can equip (although I was happy with a big swingy sword for most of the game) and you also have additional passive powers and larger special attacks to choose too. And you can pause time, which is rarely needed to the point where I forgot it even existed for most of the game.

Placeholder text to be replaced with hammer time joke later.

Overall, it’s a great example of its genre, but falls a little short when it comes to making use of the main things that differentiate it from other similar titles. After completing it, you really should do what I did and go back to complete one of the optional quests in order to unlock the good, and whaaaaaaat-invoking, ending where you break time itself, No, really.

There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension (Switch): COMPLETED!

This is a strange little thing. It’s a 4th wall breaking point and click game where you interact with things like the status bars and icons as if they’re normal objects. So, for example, there’s a bit where you need to dig a hole, but you’ve nothing to dig with. You keep getting pop-up adverts for cereal, and you can grab the spoon in the advert and use that to dig the hole. There’s a section where you come across a TV and playing on the TV – once you get it working – is a Lucasarts style adventure game about Sherlock Holmes. Only you’re able to turn the TV around and operate the game from behind the scenes, changing the set, and even making the look, talk and search icons drop off the screen so you can use them elsewhere.

It means it’s very different to any other point and click game I’ve ever played, and some of the out of the box thinking needed for some of the puzzles makes you feel very clever.

It’s varied, with several different subverted game genres to play through, is packed with game references and comments on the gaming industry (there’s a particularly long rant about free to play games, for example), and there’s even a hint system if you get stuck (although I didn’t need it – it isn’t that difficult).

My only real issue with it is that you converse with the game itself, who constantly tells you whats going on, is baffled by how your logic works, and sadly, often gives the puzzle solution away with not so subtle hints before you’ve had a chance to work it out yourself.

Cattails (Switch): COMPLETED!

Sold to me as Stardew Valley Only Cats, Cattails isn’t really that. There are a lot of visual similarities, and there are shared features like a day/night cycle, improving your home, getting married, foraging and mining, but it’s much more simplistic than Stardew Valley and much shorter too. And there are more cats.

Starting the game as a pet dumped by the side of the road for reasons not explained (one minute you’re in a happy home, then literally a second later the mum of the family kicks you out), you join one of three wild cat tribes and set about surviving in nature. Which mostly involves hunting for small animals and picking berries and flowers.

Me and The Boyz are off to f some s up.

You can improve your skills so you’re able to catch prey more easily or swim further before downing, and there’s some turf warfare going on, but it’s pretty light on RPG elements really. The main storyline, such that it is, mostly requires you to collect certain dead creatures and flowers for some standing stones, as well as solve some generally simple puzzles, in order to make The Guardian return. So I did that.

Cattails could not be described as a challenging game, nor is it deep or complex, and the story is… somewhat missing. But it is a simplistic and relaxing game, and did only cost me about a quid, so I can hardly complain.

I’ll be honest – I’m only interested in you Missy because you live next door and I’m a lazy, lazy cat.

Kunai (Switch): COMPLETED!

I was in the mood for a nice little pixelly Metroidvania, and then this appeared and was on sale. Also, Kendrick off of the ugvm podcast said it was good but of course it turns out he’s barely played it. Thankfully, he was right despite this.

The plot is silly nonsense about computers at war rebel computers and you’re a sentient iPad with legs who can save the world or something. Ignore that though, and instead enjoy the excellent traversal mechanics which are given to you piecemeal as per any other Metroidvania game. There’s a double jump, but then you get the kunai of the title which are actually more like ninja ropes – shoot them at a wall or ceiling and use them to pull yourself up or swing across gaps. You also get submachine guns that act as a sort of hover if you shoot downwards, and everything combined makes for a very nimble iPad indeed.

There’s lots of different baddies to swipe with your sword or shoot with your guns, and a few bosses (which are all surprisingly easy), which are fun too but getting around the areas is the main draw here for me, although I had to frequently refer to the map as some areas were confusing. It’s a shame there wasn’t a Metroid style mini-map on screen all the time as I think that would have helped somewhat.

I collected quite a few of the hidden items, but the game was easy enough to not need more health upgrades than I acquired, and I didn’t ever need more money than I found from just playing normally. Most of the rest of the chests that I missed I expect were useless hats – there being a lot of them in the game and aside from a bit of ridiculousness on your iPad’s head, they serve no purpose whatsoever, which was a bit disappointing. If they gave you, I dunno, higher jumps, or slower falling, or a money vacuum or something, that’d have been nice.

That aside, Kunai is a perfectly good game in the genre, that doesn’t do anything particularly special but is a lot of fun.

Pokémon Sword: The Crown Tundra (Switch): COMPLETED!

The second, and presumably final, expansion pack for Pokémon Sword/Shield, The Crown Tundra is set in a mostly snowy region and involves hunting for a lot of legendary pokémon in various ways.

Peony, a character you meet at the start, gives you three main legends to look into. The first has you finding the local “new to the series” legendary – Calyrex, then finding his horse by growing a carrot. Yeah, one carrot. Calyrex doesn’t have enough power for more. You can get one of two horses, depending where you grow the carrot – an ice type or a ghost type. I went with the latter. With them reunited, the next mission is to gain entry to four mysterious temples and capture the Regi-series pokémon within. It’s a minor puzzle task to open the temples up, and then a tricky task to actually capture them without killing them and they’re all alarmingly resistant to pokéballs.

Finally, you have to capture three Galarian variants of previous game legendaries – Moltres, Zapdos and Articuno – by chasing them across both the Tundra and both previous areas in the game.

With those done (and it essentially being The End), I completed a side quest for Sonia, who wanted me to find three more legendaries by discovering 50 sets of footprints for each of Cobalion, Virizion, and Terrakion and then catching them. Again, this was difficult, especially for Cobalion as I went through over 60 Ultra Balls even while he was on virtually zero HP and was fast asleep.

And then I went into the Dynamax mine area place where it had been reported a load of Ultra Beasts (from Pokémon Sun and Moon) had appeared, and caught myself a Tapu Fini. Phew, eh?

This was definitely the better of the two DLC packs. It’s bigger, more varied, and more interesting. When are the new Diamond and Pearl remakes out, again?

Fire ‘N Ice (Switch): COMPLETED!

What I first thought was a more simplistic Solomon’s Key type game, Fire ‘N Ice actually turned out to be a prequel to Solomon’s Key and was released as Solomon’s Key 2 in some countries. It loses the moving (and respawning) enemies from the original, as well as the attacks, jumping, and time limits, leaving just the ability to create or destroy ice blocks immediately down-left and down-right of you. And it’s all the better for it.

With no time limit and very few parts where timing is critical, the game is properly in puzzle territory and this suits it well. Solomon’s Key was too stressful for me! You only have to concern yourself with how to squash all the static (for the most part) enemies by dropping or pushing ice blocks onto or into them. That doesn’t mean it’s easier, it just means it’s lest chaotic.

With 100 levels to get through, some of which used your limited options really cleverly (like, how do you climb higher up the level, if you’re only able to create blocks below you?), it’s a long game despite each being just one single screen. I easily spent 5-6 hours on it. I’m not even sure why I started playing in the first place – but I’m glad I did as it’s a wonderful hidden gem of a game.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’m sure this will cause complaints, same as previously when I’ve “completed” Animal Crossing games, but I have a system and I’m sticking to it. Yes, on one end of the scale people would say the game is complete when you’ve achieved all the in-game stamps from Tom Nook, or when you’ve made every item in the DIY list, or filled the museum, or any number of other things perhaps in combination. On the other end of the scale, you’ve people saying when they’ve seen the credits, which for me happened about 8 weeks in when KK Slider did his first Saturday gig. My criteria, is play every day for a whole year, and so, on day 365, that’s it. I’ve seen a whole year’s worth of events, never missed a day, and the game is completed.

Finished though? Of course not.

But how was the game? Well, it was Animal Crossing. It’s probably the most different from the rest Animal Crossing, though, in a number of ways. The main two are the DIY crafting, and the island construction additions, where you create furniture and special items with the former and restructure your entire island, knocking down cliffs, making new lakes and rivers and so on, with the latter. There’s also a fair bit missing, though – no coffee shop with Brewster, no parade of shops, no second hand shop, no Lyle, Kapp’n, Tortimer or many other regulars.

Ultimately, though, it is more of the same. You plant trees, harvest fruit, collect things for your house, chat with animals, pay off your mortgage, and visit other people in their islands. And actually, that’s fine.

Some people wonder what I found to do for all this time, and I’ve not really any idea. Each day has the same routine: Smack rocks, find the buried money, plant more money, “harvest” the grown money tree, collect the bottle on one of the beaches, dig up, identify then sell all the fossils, and that sort of thing. I’ve also had a vague medium term goal in mind which I’d then spend some time working towards: Early on, this was to grow an orchard with rows of trees for each fruit, later it was to hit various Bell targets (having long since paid off Nook’s mortgage), and more recently it has been to grow every type of flower – blue roses still elude me, sadly.

Mostly, though, it’s just relaxing to wander round and do menial tasks for no real actual gain. And sure, I’ve done a year but I’m still going to play it until I get fed up, which probably won’t be for a while yet. Especially if Nintendo are still chucking new stuff in every now and again!

One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 Deluxe Edition (Switch): COMPLETED!

Bought simply because I saw it for £9 and thought, even if it’s HYRULE WARRIORS’ rubbish cousin, it’d be a fun musou game for a bit in two player, and you know what? It was! Fun, I mean. Not rubbish.

OK, so I have no idea what One Piece is about, have no affinity for the characters and stories shown in the game, and it isn’t as slick or clever as either Hyrule game or Fire Emblem Warriors (even though it’s the same team that developed it), but it’s still great, mindless, button mashy smacky fun. It doesn’t actually matter that neither myself or my daughter recognised anyone in the game, because it’s simple to play and actually, who they are have no relevance to the gameplay anyway.

We’ve done the story, and there’s a lot more to unlock, but for £9 it was a bloody bargain,